A day after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him, leading Indian artist Subodh Gupta Friday stepped down as curator of the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa. Gupta called the allegations against him — posted on an anonymously-run Instagram account, Scene and Herd — “false and fabricated”.
The “Scene and Herd” Instagram handle had posted detailed accounts by some women accusing the 54-year-old Gupta of sexual misconduct. Speaking to The Indian Express, Gupta denied the allegations. “I deny the anonymous allegations made on the Instagram account @herdsceneand in their entirety. I have never behaved in an inappropriate manner with any individual who worked with me and several of my former assistants can attest to this. These allegations are entirely false and fabricated,” he said.
An internationally-feted artist, referred to as the “King of Screaming Metal” and “Damien Hirst of Delhi”, Gupta is one of India’s foremost contemporary artists and amongst the country’s most expensive artists. He is best known for working with the concept of the “ready-made” in art, using everyday objects such as stainless steel utensils to craft monumental sculptures and installations.
In an internal statement circulated to festival curators, Serendipity Arts Festival officials said theirs was an organisation “with multiple social objectives, focused on creating an inclusive and responsible space for practitioners across the artistic spectrum. In light of recent allegations, Subodh Gupta has issued a statement denying them but has also decided to step back, and will not be present at the festival, so as not to detract from the collaborative efforts of over 90 projects at the Serendipity Arts Festival this year”.
Accused of sexual harassment, Subodh Gupta steps down as Goa fest curator, denies charges supports the #MeToo movement and is committed to the safety of all in the workplace and the welfare of the extended Festival community and its participants.” The week-long, inter-disciplinary art festival is an initiative of the Serendipity Arts Foundation, founded in 2016 by Sunil Kant Munjal, chairman of Hero Enterprise. The current edition is the festival’s third.
In October, Riyas Komu, co-founder of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale as well as a curator at the Serendipity Arts Festival, was accused of sexual abuse on “Scene and Herd”. At the time, the festival had issued a statement that said, “In light of recent developments, it has been decided that we shall remain committed to the Young Subcontinent project without Riyas Komu, who was the curator of the project. The project will be carried forth by the Foundation, and will be on display as planned this December during the Festival in Panaji.”
Besides Gupta and Komu, Jatin Das as well as Sotheby’s India MD Gaurav Bhatia, are other figures from the world of art to have been accused of sexual harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement.